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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign: State consumer protection unit faults REV plan; life after Huntley

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

Good morning! Only POLITICO New York Pro subscribers receive this email at 5:30 a.m. each weekday. If you'd like to receive it at that time, along with a customized real-time news feed of New York energy policy news throughout the day, please contact us at and we'll set you up for trial access. We’ll send the same newsletter to non-Pro subscribers at 10 a.m. Thank you for reading.

STATE: LOW-INCOME UTILITY ASSISTANCE PROPOSAL ‘UNDER INCLUSIVE’ — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: More than half of New York's low-income utility customers could be left out of financial assistance programs under a draft plan to rework the state’s energy grid, according to a new report. The Department of Public Service’s initial proposal to include low-income customers in the Reforming Energy Vision plan relies too heavily upon the existing Home Energy Assistance Program, or HEAP, according to the report by the Department of State's Consumer Protection Unit. The problem, according to the report, is that HEAP reaches only a fraction of eligible low-income customers. The DPS proposal, the report says, is “under-inclusive because it fails to enroll over half of New York State's low-income customers. A successful low-income discount program for similarly situated low-income gas and electric customers cannot depend upon whether they were fortunate enough to receive a HEAP grant.”

WESTCHESTER COURTS GE—POLITICO New York’s Jimmy Vielkind: Officials in Westchester County have been actively gathering — and pitching — potential sites for General Electric to move its headquarters there. “We're open for business and we would love to have GE here, and we wanted to make sure that they know what we have to offer,” said Ned McCormack, a spokesman for Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino. “Now that this has been out there for a couple of weeks, there's a couple of places that seem to be in play.” POLITICO New York reported that Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited the industrial conglomerate's C-suite in Fairfield, Connecticut, on July 30. A GE spokesman said the company — which employs 8,800 people in New York and was incorporated in Schenectady — began exploring other locations for its headquarters after Connecticut lawmakers changed the state's corporate tax code.

-- David Sirota stitches together GE’s campaign contributions, record on Hudson River dredging and Cuomo’s current efforts to woo the company.

LIFE AFTER HUNTLEY — The Buffalo News’ T.J. Pignataro: “The end seems at hand for the Huntley Station power plant in the Town of Tonawanda. NRG Energy, the plant’s owner, Tuesday submitted a plan to the state Public Service Commission to permanently retire the coal-fired facility March 1, 2016. The shutdown would mean the loss of 79 jobs and also millions of dollars in revenue to the town and the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District. The company pays nearly $3 million a year to the school district, $2 million to the town and about $800,000 to Erie County, said Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Anthony F. Caruana. ‘It’s probably not totally unexpected,’ Caruana said of Tuesday’s announcement. ‘Unfortunately, it’s very disappointing.’”

**A message from Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign: If New York is serious about tackling climate change, than we can no longer afford to keep fossil fuels on life support; having paid $4 million a month since 2013 to keep the uneconomical Cayuga coal-fired plant limping along, electricity bill payers shouldn’t be placed on the hook for $145 million more. Tell Governor Cuomo and his Public Service Commission to stop the Cayuga coal plant bail out. Click here to stop the Cayuga bailout.**


--The Dirty Dozens: In the latest installment of a growing trend we call “map shaming,” DNAinfo has compiled a list of more than two dozen buildings in NYC that still have not switched over from Number 6 oil.

--The Times Union profile a 100-year-old hydroelectric plant outside Albany that produces enough power for 16,000 homes.

--State Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Westchester wants federal regulators to halt a proposed natural gas pipeline near the Indian Point nuclear facility until its risk can be better evaluated.

--Lake Erie will get wind turbines.

--The Tutinos of Long Island are having a hell of a time with their shower. Family members complain of electrical shocks when they touch the shower knobs.

--Liberal group pre-emptively hits Menendez on oil: Allied Progress, a liberal advocacy group, is pushing U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez in a new television ad to reject congressional efforts to end the ban on crude oil exports.

--Rochester activists targeted U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer on the Iran nuclear deal.

GOOD THURSDAY MORNING: Please let us know if you have stories, ideas, complaints or even if you're just lonely. We're always here at and And if you like this letter, please tell a friend and/or loved one. Here’s a handy sign-up link:

WASHINGTON NUCLEAR WASTE SITE ‘RIDDLED’ WITH FLAWS — The Washington Post’s Joby Warrick: “A nearly completed government facility intended to treat the radioactive byproducts of nuclear weapons production is riddled with design flaws that could put the entire operation at risk of failure, according to a leaked internal report. A technical review of the treatment plant on the grounds of the former Hanford nuclear site identified hundreds of 'design vulnerabilities' and other weaknesses, some serious enough to lead to spills of radioactive material.”

BEER, OK. WATER? NOT SO FAST: The New York Times’ Monica Davey reports on the brewing fight over water usage on the Great Lakes. Waukesha, Wisconsin, proposed drawing water from Lake Michigan when its aquifer became contaminated. Waukesha, however, must first get permission from all eight governors whose states touch the five Great Lakes. If Waukesha’s 70,000 citizens were brewing beer or making soda they apparently wouldn’t need the approvals. But drawing water is another matter.

SOLYNDRA EXECS ‘REPEATEDLY’ MISLED FEDS — The Washington Post: “Top leaders of a troubled solar panel company that cost taxpayers a half-billion dollars repeatedly misled federal officials and omitted information about the firm’s financial prospects as they sought to win a major government loan, according to a newly-released federal investigative report. Solyndra’s leaders engaged in a 'pattern of false and misleading assertions' that drew a rosy picture of their company enjoying robust sales while they lobbied to win the first clean energy loan the new administration awarded in 2009, a lengthy investigation uncovered. The Silicon Valley start-up’s dramatic rise and then collapse into bankruptcy two years later became a rallying cry for critics of President Obama’s signature program to create jobs by injecting billions of dollars into clean energy firms.”

CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECTING FILM SHOOTS — Vanity Fair’s Julie Miller: “Climate change is no breaking news story — but it’s one that Hollywood, an industry built on the forging of fantasies, is increasingly confronting. And it’s something that a business famed for its control freaks, from auteur directors to studio heads, has no power over. Mother Earth has been throwing Hollywood climate curveballs with increasing frequency, reminding the town that she is more powerful than Ari Gold,Harvey Weinstein, and Scientology combined. And it has the potential, it seems, to get worse. A much-discussed study published earlier this year in the journal Nature Climate Change showed that higher global temperatures had led to a four-fold increase in some extreme heat patterns since the Industrial Revolution, and could lead to even more. Now, as Mother Earth tangibly extends the environmental pandemic to the movie industry, how will Hollywood have to adapt?”

NASA: VEGETATION COOLS CITIES: Right about now many of you reading this are experiencing the “urban heat island” effect. It is the combination of concrete, glass and asphalt along with air conditioning exhaust that makes cities one to three degrees hotter than more rural areas. NASA has published a study in Environmental Research Letters showing that vegetation in cities can mitigate the urban heat island.

TAR SANDS RESERVES HIT RECORD LEVEL — The Wall Street Journal’s David George-Cosh: “Stockpiles of Western Canadian crude reached a new high last week, according to a report from a leading energy market data provider, in a further sign of the North American oil glut rising as energy prices fall. The rapid rise in inventory, which may worsen the price discount between Western Canadian and other crudes, comes as global demand for oil hasn't kept up with the pace of production increases. Oil prices have slumped to six-year lows in recent trading, prompting North American producers to park more crude in storage tanks as they wait out the slump in the hopes of a rebound in demand and prices.”

GOP TRYING TO SCUTTLE PARIS CLIMATE TALKS — EnergyWire’s Jean Chemnick: “This year's high-stakes climate conference in Paris is still months away, but congressional offices are already calling and meeting with environmental staffers at foreign embassies, making their case that the United States either can or cannot deliver what the White House has promised toward a global deal. GOP Senate staff, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) energy aide Neil Chatterjee, has been reaching out to foreign officials over the past months to warn that the White House's pledges of emissions reductions and aid dollars won't withstand congressional opposition — and especially the possible election of a new Republican president. E.U. members who have been among the strongest proponents of a stringent deal in Paris this year were on their call list. Republicans say they're trying to manage expectations. They note that the U.S. system differs greatly from European parliamentary governments, where one party may control all the levers of government.”

WHITE HOUSE BLASTS KOCHS OVER ENERGY: POLITICO’s Nick Gass reports that White House spokesman Josh Earnest hit back at the Koch brothers Wednesday in the latest tit-for-tat over the billionaires’ fight against clean energy subsidies. On Monday, President Obama said the Koches were spending millions to preserve fossil fuel subsidies that were killing the environment. Charles Koch told POLITICO’s Mike Allen he was “flabberghasted” at the president’s remarks. “On Wednesday, during the daily briefing, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Koch’s comments do not match with reality. ‘I’m not sure whether to describe those comments as remarkably rich or utterly predictable,’ Earnest said in response to a question from a POLITICO reporter. ‘It’s that when the president is advocating, for example, the end of tax subsidies that benefit oil and gas companies, that somebody who has made billions of dollars leading an oil and gas company, might not think very highly of that policy proposal.’”

SAVING MONEY BY PAYING FOR ENERGY IN OFF PEAK HOURS — The Washington Post’s Chris Mooney: “Earlier this year, home energy received its biggest jolt since rooftop solar when Tesla Motors announced a home battery dubbed the Powerwall. Immediately useful for backup during power outages, the Powerwall also open a broader doorway into a world of home energy storage. When paired with rooftop panels, the availability of storage brings us closer to a future in which homes could be generating much of the energy they need during the day, and then storing some of the remainder for use overnight. But on Wednesday, the Rocky Mountain Institute, a noted energy think tank, released a new report suggesting that there’s a less noticed change under way in how we use energy at home — and pay for it — that could have similarly dramatic potential.”

BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE HALF A TRILLION? — Bloomberg: “At a time when the oil price is languishing at its lowest level in six years, producers need to find half a trillion dollars to repay debt. Some might not make it. The number of oil and gas company bonds with yields of 10 percent or more, a sign of distress, tripled in the past year, leaving 168 firms in North America, Europe and Asia holding this debt, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The ratio of net debt to earnings is the highest in two decades.”


--Oil continued to fall, despite the markets improving Wednesday. Nicole Friedman of the Wall Street Journal reports supplies and lower gas demand continue to depress prices.

“Light, sweet crude for October delivery fell 71 cents, or 1.8%, to $38.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, fell seven cents, or 0.2%, to $43.14 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.”

--Natural gas settles higher: Tim Puko of the Journal reports a coming heat wave boosted futures prices.

“The front-month September contract settled up 0.8 cent, or 0.3%, at $2.693 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices closed near the bottom of a 28-cent range they have settled in every session for more than two months.”

**A message from Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign: The Public Service Commission has already approved millions of dollars to prop up the dirty, outdated Cayuga coal-fired power plant. Now they are considering spending $145 million more of our hard-earned money to let this plant continue polluting New York’s air and water. For a fraction of this amount we can make sure that the region has reliable power while workers and communities are protected through the transition to modern, clean energy sources. With the increasing cost of coal and a shrinking industry, the time for change in New York is now. Tell Governor Cuomo that we need to stop bailing out coal plants and take the steps needed to lead the renewable energy transition. Your comments are a key part of making it clear: New Yorkers know that it’s time to act on climate and we can start by ending the bail out of coal right here in our state. Click here to tell Governor Cuomo to stop the coal bailouts and support renewable energy.**

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